It might not go so far as its own Facebook or Twitter accounts, but a sea turtles the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores released Oct. 17 is keeping in touch online. A transmitter on its shell periodically pinpoint its location through satellite technology similar to the Global Positioning System (GPS). The public as well as researchers can access the information via a website dedicated to tracking aquatic wildlife.
Click to see the sea turtle’s travels at www.seaturtle.org. The turtles is listed under the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores Sea Turtle Awareness Program as Abby.
Abby, a five-year-old loggerhead, was a straggler from an Atlantic Beach nest. It’s name evolved from the ID assigned to it that included an abbreviation for the nest location – AB 0803. It spent its first two years at the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores in educational exhibits and programs, before moving to the Virginia Living Museum in New port News on loan for sea turtle educational programs there.
Signals from the transmitter on another loggerhead, tagged at the same time, stopped after 15 days. Carson, a two-year-old loggerhead, was named for environmentalist Rachel Carson. The turtle was a weak hatchling from an Emerald Isle nest, brought to the Aquarium for care. It later went to Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium on loan as part of the facility’s Sea Turtle Second Chance program.
The Pittsburgh and Virginia facilities collaborated with the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on the tagging effort. The lightweight transmitters, affixed to the shells with epoxy, don’t impede movement and eventually fall off. Ghostbuster, a tagged turtle released under the cooperative program with Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in 2012, is still being tracked.
In addition to the two tagged turtles, the Aquarium also released 10 loggerhead hatchlings from the 2013 season, four yearling loggerheads and two yearling green sea turtles. The Aquarium works with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to care for imperiled hatchlings from area beaches. Most are released as soon as they regain strength. A few stay at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores or go to other aquariums for educational exhibits or programs before their release.